Source Problems on the French Revolution

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15. Bailli De Virieu, Correspondance, 99.

Paris, June 29, 1789.

In the squares and in the streets one sees only crowds of people talking of the states general; one hears the words Third Estate and Nation constantly repeated and forming everywhere a deafening echo. The baggage carriers, the clerks, the fishwives even take a hand in these conversations. In the stores the clerks neglect the customers to occupy themselves only with politics; finally, the words "Third Estate" become a war - cry, and all the speeches one hears are those of men capable of anything if the nobility and clergy persist in their declarations. The French at this moment bear little resemblance to the French of the month of June of last year. Saturday, the 20th, at Versailles, the royal session was proclaimed for the 22d. Monday morning it was postponed until the next day, the 23d. Opinions differ as to the cause of this delay; it is generally attributed to the changes made in the speeches with which M. Necker had been charged, and which M. Vidaud de la Tour, master of requests, and M. de Barentin had occasioned by the objections they made without number, at the instigation, it is suspected, of a third person. However that may be, these objections having, it is said, disgusted M. Necker, made clear to him at the same time that the intention was to wreck his plan and push the king to make use of his authority. It is added that he did all he could to prevent his majesty from having read at the royal session the speech, or rather the declaration of the guard of the seals, assuring him that it would displease the third estate. Seeing that the king persisted in his intention, Necker presented his resignation. In fact, it was the report of the dismissal of this minister, so dear to the people, rather than the declaration of the king, which nearly produced a bloody revolt.... The 23d, terrible day, on which the storm formed and almost at once passed away, the king betook himself to the assembly. Having seated himself on the throne, he cast his eyes about to find Necker. He did not see him and waited a minute, after which he read his speech.... He thereupon ordered the deputies of the three orders to retire into the chambers belonging to each. Cries of "Vive le roi!" were heard when his majesty rose to leave the hall. The people who had gathered in crowds and were awaiting with impatience at the doors the end of this session, on hearing these acclamations, believed the Tiers had won their cause. They joined at once to the acclamations their shouts of joy, but they soon ceased. Not seeing any deputy of the third estate leave the hall, in spite of the orders of the king, and those which the Marquis de Brézé had repeated to them in the name of his majesty, the people suspected something, asked questions, and, the answer having confirmed their suspicions, the multitude rushed to the doors of the chateau. The officers cried: "To arms! On guard! Stop them!" The French and Swiss guards seized their muskets, but did not offer the least resistance to the crowd. It penetrated even to the royal apartments, at the doors of which the firmness of the body guard checked the most mutinous. They demanded, however, in threatening tones that M. Necker be restored to them. This minister showed himself at once. "Retire, calm yourselves, gentlemen," he said; "the king and queen have sent for me." in fact, the conversation lasted an hour and a half; the minister came out with a satisfied air. At the moment he entered his carriage the crowd called to him, "Monsieur Necker, will you stay?" The "yes" was not pronounced distinctly; or, rather, was it not clearly understood? M. Necker was borne in triumph to his residence, and there a more categorical reply was awaited. At the end of a few minutes a "Yes, he is going to stay, he will never leave again" made itself heard from the top of the staircase to the end of the street. The people then retired, satisfied by the return of the favorite. The report of the dismissal of M. Necker reached Paris as soon as it was learned at Versailles. It is impossible to picture the consternation of the Parisians. If there had been a delay of a few hours in learning that M. Necker was retained, one would have been the spectator of a horrible catastrophe.

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Chicago: "15. Bailli De Virieu, Correspondance, 99," Source Problems on the French Revolution in Source Problems on the French Revolution, ed. Fred Morrow Fling and Helene Dresser Fling (New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1913), 152–155. Original Sources, accessed February 21, 2024, http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=ZAQED26Y6R87PMB.

MLA: . "15. Bailli De Virieu, Correspondance, 99." Source Problems on the French Revolution, in Source Problems on the French Revolution, edited by Fred Morrow Fling and Helene Dresser Fling, New York, Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1913, pp. 152–155. Original Sources. 21 Feb. 2024. http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=ZAQED26Y6R87PMB.

Harvard: , '15. Bailli De Virieu, Correspondance, 99' in Source Problems on the French Revolution. cited in 1913, Source Problems on the French Revolution, ed. , Harper & Brothers Publishers, New York, pp.152–155. Original Sources, retrieved 21 February 2024, from http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=ZAQED26Y6R87PMB.